(Auṃ or Oṃ, : ॐ)

What is O.M or AUM?

Om : Auṃ or Oṃ, : ) is a sacred sound and a spiritual icon in Hindu religion. It is also a mantra in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism

Before the beginning, the absolute reality was one and non-dual. It thought, “I am only one—may I become many.” This caused a vibration which eventually became a sound and this sound was Om, pronounced “aum”.

The primordial sound made when the universe was created. “Creation itself was set in motion by the vibration of Om.”

”Meaning Of Om”

The Sanskrit word OM (also written as AUM) is a composite of three letters “A” (? – like the first sound in ‘aware’, “U” (? -as in ‘foot’ and “M” (?? – as the last sound in ‘mum’). According to MU, the three letters A, U, and M represent the waking, dream and deep sleep states. The silence between successive repetitions of the mantra represents the fourth state called ‘turiya’ (literally the ‘fourth’ in Sanskrit), a state that transcends these three states. These three states correspond to the conscious, sub-conscious and unconscious states of the mind. A few other commonly mentioned interpretations of the letters A, U and M are given below:

  • According to yoga, Samkhya and many other scriptures, the whole material creation, including human mind and body are a manifestation of the ‘mula prakriti’ (primordial nature) which is composed of the three gunas – sattva, rajas and tamas. The three letters of OM thus correspond to the three gunas as follows:
  • A = tamas (darkness, inertia, ignorance)
  • U = rajas (passion, activity, dynamism)
  • M = Sattva (purity, truth, light)

The silence between the two AUM sounds represents the pure consciousness, a state which transcends the three gunas (called ‘trigunaatit’ – beyond gunas)

  • A = Brahma (the creator), U = Vishnu (the sustainer) and M = Shiva (the destroyer); the silence between two OM sounds = the substratum or the reality that lies beyond the trinity
  • A = Present, U = Past, M = future; silence between sounds = the reality beyond time and space
  • What does the symbol Om represent?

The Om symbol written in Sanskrit represents everything. The material world of the waking state is symbolized by the large lower curve. The deep sleep state is symbolized by the upper left curve. The dream state, lying between the waking state below and deep sleep state above, emanates from the confluence of the two. The point and semicircle are separate from the rest and rule the whole. The point represents the state of absolute consciousness. The open semicircle is symbolic of the infinite and the fact that the meaning of the point cannot be grasped if one limits oneself to finite thinking.

How to chant OM!!

As Patanjali states in sutra 1.28, OM should be chanted keeping its meaning and significance in mind. Since OM is the representative sound and symbol for Ishvara, it is important to keep the essence of Ishvara (sutra 1.24) in mind while chanting OM. The technique for chanting OM is given below:

Sit in a comfortable cross-legged seated posture with the spine upright, head, neck and spine in a vertical (if comfortable) alignment. Close the eyes and take a deep inhalation. While exhaling start uttering the OM sound. Begin by feeling the vibration of the “O” sound building up in the navel area and traveling upward. As you continue the chant, feel the vibration moving upward toward the base of the throat. When the vibration reaches the throat area, convert the sound to a deep humming sound of “M”. Continue to feel the vibration moving upward until it reaches the crown of the head (called Sahasrara Chakra). You may repeat this process two or more times. At the end of the final chant, continue to sit still and feel the vibration of the OM sound permeating the whole body – every single cell of the body.

Benefits of chanting OM

The continued recitation of OM (called Udgita Pranayama) fills one with peace, calmness, tranquility and serenity. When we recite it with the understanding that OM is nothing but a representation of Ishvara, it brings us closer to our true nature, our own pure self. As mentioned above, OM is the primordial sound and this entire creation is a manifestation of this mystic sound. It represents the cosmic prana (the vital energy) and the air we breathe. Meditating on these thoughts can bring us closer to other human beings and lift the veil of separateness.

Do you chant the sound of OM in your yoga practice? If so, do you chant OM by itself or in association with other mantras?

The importance of “Om” in the six true words;

Om Ma Ni Pad Me Hum.

The first word Om is composed of three letters, A, U, and M. These symbolize the practitioner’s impure body, speech, and mind; they also symbolize the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha


8 thoughts on “(Auṃ or Oṃ, : ॐ)

  1. I silently chant ‘One.’ It has similar connotations and resonance to Om.

    At Lucknow University on a Carnegie grant I studied Sanskrit, but gave up. It was far more difficult than Hindi, even though it used the same alphabet and grammar.

    Liked by 1 person

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